Facebook's 'Ripley' Could Turn Your TV Into a Giant Spying Device

By Tom Pritchard on at

Recently Facebook announced it was releasing something called the Portal. Portal is smart display, with Alexa features, that's primarily designed for audio and video calling people on your Facebook friends list. It was interesting to see such a thing come out of a company that has been levelled with serious privacy-based accusations, especially now that the company has admitted Portal could potentially be used to sell ads to users. But, what if the Portal was your TV?

According to Cheddar Facebook has a device that's being referred to internally as 'Ripley', and it's designed to bring all the same features Portal features to the larger screens that are already in your home. Video and voice calls, user tracking, and so on, while also offering access to Facebook Watch - the company's own video streaming platforms. Presumably it will also include the likes of Spotify, which will be available on the current slate of Portals when they're released, and any other services Facebook partners up with in the future.

According to Cheddar's sources 'Ripley' is currently set for a Spring 2019 release, though that could change since the product is still in development. The site notes that Portal itself was delayed thanks to the Cambridge Analytics scandal, and the ramifications it had on the perception of Facebook's attitude to privacy.

Adding a camera to a TV for video calling isn't new, but seeing as how smart displays are now fast becoming a thing it would sort of make sense for someone to try their hand at this again. I'm surprised Amazon or Google haven't tried it yet, especially since they both already have a vested interest in TV-based gadgets and offer AI-powered voice controls for them. But instead Facebook is at it. Let's just hope Ripley is available here, and is slightly cheaper to compensate for the fact it doesn't come with a screen. Also the fact it could, theoretically, spy on you while you're watching Netflix. [Cheddar]